Military Careers in Combat Certification Requirements and Hiring Process

Jan 15, 2024

14 Min Read

1. What are the basic requirements to become a combat-certified military member?

The basic requirements to become a combat-certified military member can vary slightly depending on the branch of the military, but generally include:

1. Citizenship: The individual must be a United States citizen or have legal permanent resident status.

2. Age: Most branches require individuals to be at least 17 years old (with parental consent) and not older than 35 years old. Some branches may have age waivers for certain positions.

3. Education: A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required, but some branches may accept individuals with a GED.

4. Physical Fitness: All military members must meet minimum physical fitness standards as determined by their branch of service.

5. Health: Applicants must pass a medical exam to ensure they are in good health and able to perform the duties required of a combat-certified military member.

6. Background Check: A criminal background check will be conducted on all applicants.

7. ASVAB Test: The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test is required for all branches of the military and measures an individual’s knowledge and abilities in various areas such as math, science, and mechanical aptitude.

8. Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) Visit: All applicants are required to visit a MEPS location for further screening, including taking physical and psychological exams.

9. Basic Training: Once an individual has met all other requirements and has been accepted into the military, they must complete basic training before becoming combat-certified.

Additionally, each branch of the military may have specific requirements based on their mission and needs, such as passing additional tests or meeting certain physical standards specific to that branch.

2. Are there any specific physical fitness standards that must be met for combat certification?

There are specific physical fitness standards that must be met for combat certification, which vary depending on the branch of service and specific job or role within the military. Generally, these standards involve a combination of strength, endurance, and overall physical conditioning.

For example, the Army’s Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) measures a soldier’s readiness for combat through six different events: a 3-repetition maximum deadlift, standing power throw, hand release push-ups, sprint-drag-carry event, leg tuck, and 2-mile run. Each event has different standards based on gender and age.

Similarly, the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (PFT) consists of pull-ups or push-ups (depending on gender), sit-ups, and a 3-mile run. The Air Force’s Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) also includes push-ups, sit-ups, and a 1.5 mile run.

In addition to these specific tests, all branches have basic height and weight requirements as well as guidelines for physical appearance and body composition.

3. Can you become combat certified if you have existing medical conditions?

It may be possible to obtain combat certification with existing medical conditions depending on their severity and impact on physical performance. Each branch of the military has their own set of medical standards that applicants must meet in order to qualify for service.

Individuals with certain medical conditions may be able to obtain waivers if they can demonstrate that their condition will not affect their ability to perform physically demanding tasks required in combat situations. However, each waiver is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and not all medical conditions may be granted waivers.

It is important to note that individuals with existing medical conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before attempting to join the military or pursue any physically demanding roles such as combat certification.

3. How long does it typically take to complete combat certification training?

The duration of combat certification training can vary depending on the specific branch of the military and the individual’s role within that branch. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete combat certification training.

Some specialized roles, such as Special Forces or Navy SEALs, may require longer and more intense training programs lasting up to a year or more. On the other hand, basic combat training for enlisted personnel typically lasts around 8-10 weeks.

The length of combat certification training also depends on factors such as previous experience and prior military service. For example, individuals who have already completed basic military training may have a shorter timeline for completing specific combat certifications. Additionally, the intensity and schedule of the training program can also impact its duration.

Overall, it is best to consult with a recruiter or specific branch of the military for more accurate information on how long combat certification training may take for a particular role.

4. Is there a specific branch of the military that offers more opportunities for combat-certified positions?

There is not one specific branch of the military that offers more opportunities for combat-certified positions. All branches of the military have various positions and career paths that require combat training and certification, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. It ultimately depends on an individual’s job choice and their qualifications for specific roles within each branch.

5. Are there any specialized skills or knowledge required for combat certification beyond basic training?

Yes, combat certification typically requires specialized training and skills in weapons handling, marksmanship, land navigation, small unit tactics, emergency medical care, communication systems, and survival techniques. Candidates may also need to complete additional courses on specific equipment or technology used in combat situations.

6. Is there a minimum age requirement to pursue a career in combat-certified roles?

Yes, depending on the branch of the military and specific job role within that branch, there may be a minimum age requirement. Generally, to enlist in the military, an individual must be at least 17 years old with parental consent or 18 years old without parental consent. However, some combat roles may require individuals to be at least 21 years old due to the physical demands and intensity of these jobs. It is important to research specific age requirements for the branch and job you are interested in pursuing.

7. What is the application process like for those looking to enter into a combat-certified position in the military?

The application process for combat-certified positions in the military may vary slightly between branches, but generally includes the following steps:

1. Research: Before applying, do thorough research on the branch of service and specific job you are interested in. You can visit official military websites or speak with a recruiter to learn more.

2. Meet Basic Requirements: Generally, to apply for a combat-certified position, you must meet certain basic requirements such as being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, passing a physical exam and having a high school diploma.

3. Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) Test: This is a general test that measures your knowledge and ability in different areas such as math, science, language and mechanics. Your scores on this test will determine which jobs you are qualified for.

4. Choose Your Job: Based on your ASVAB scores and available positions, you can choose the military occupational specialty (MOS) that aligns with your interests and skills.

5. Enlistment or Commissioning Process: If you are enlisting as an enlisted member of the military, you will go through basic training before starting specialized training for your chosen MOS. For those entering as officers through commissioning (Officer Candidate School or ROTC), there will be additional requirements and training.

6. Complete Specialized Training: Depending on the MOS you have chosen, you will go through specialized training that prepares you for your specific role in combat.

7. Screening/Selection Process for Combat-Certified Positions: Some combat positions may require additional screening or selection processes such as physical fitness tests or special interviews to ensure candidates are physically and mentally fit for these roles.

8. Security Clearance: Certain positions may require a security clearance due to the sensitive nature of the work involved.

Overall, entering into a combat-certified position requires commitment, strong qualifications and physical fitness readiness. It’s important to carefully consider all aspects and requirements before making a decision to pursue this path in the military.

8. Are there any educational requirements or preferred degrees that can help with becoming certified for combat roles?

Yes, most combat roles require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. However, certain specialized roles may require a college degree or specific training in a related field (e.g. engineering, medicine). Additionally, candidates with degrees in fields such as international relations, political science, or foreign languages may have an advantage in some combat-related positions. It is also recommended to be physically fit and have strong mental and emotional resilience when pursuing a combat role.

9. Do recruits need prior experience in order to be considered for combat certification?

It is not a requirement for recruits to have prior experience in order to be considered for combat certification. However, having prior experience or skills related to combat, such as martial arts or military training, may increase a recruit’s chances of being accepted into a combat certification program. The final decision will depend on the specific requirements and criteria set by the organization offering the certification.

10. What kind of ongoing training and development do members undergo once they are certified as combat-ready?

Ongoing training and development for combat-ready members may include:

1. Regular physical fitness training to maintain strength, endurance, and overall physical readiness.
2. Weapons proficiency training, including shooting drills, tactical exercises, and familiarization with different types of weapons.
3. Combat tactics training to prepare for various scenarios and situations on the battlefield.
4. Medical training to provide basic first aid and emergency treatment in combat situations.
5. Communication and coordination training with fellow team members to improve teamwork and effectiveness on the battlefield.
6. Survival skills training to prepare for harsh environments and potential enemy traps or tactics.
7. Cultural sensitivity and language training to navigate different cultures and communicate effectively with civilians or local populations.
8. Psychological resilience training to help cope with the mental stress of combat operations.
9. Training in new technologies and equipment as it becomes available.
10. Refresher courses and scenario-based exercises to maintain skills and assess weaknesses that need improvement.

It’s important for combat-ready members to constantly practice and refine their skills in order to be prepared for any mission they may be called upon to undertake.

11. Is it possible to switch branches of the military after completing combat certification training?

Yes, it is possible to switch branches of the military after completing combat certification training. However, the process and eligibility may vary depending on the specific circumstances and policies of each branch. Some branches may require individuals to reenlist, while others may allow for a direct transfer. It is important to consult with a military recruiter or career counselor for more information on specific requirements and procedures.

12. Can someone with a criminal record still be eligible for combat certification in the military?

It depends on the severity and nature of the criminal record. The military has strict guidelines for what disqualifies someone from combat certification, and certain offenses may make someone ineligible. Each case is evaluated individually during the recruitment process.

13. Are there different levels of combat certification that are earned over the course of a military career?

Yes, there are different levels of combat certification that can be earned over the course of a military career. These certifications typically increase in difficulty and complexity as the service member gains experience and training.

Some common levels of combat certification include:

1. Basic Combat Training (BCT): This is the initial level of combat training that all new recruits must complete before moving on to specialized training.

2. Advanced Individual Training (AIT): After BCT, soldiers may go through specialized training specific to their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) which can include advanced weapons systems, communication skills, or other specialized skills relevant to their job.

3. Unit-level Certification: This is a level of certification specific to a particular unit or team within the military. It often involves mock battles and field exercises to ensure that each unit is prepared for real-world deployments.

4. Joint Forces Certification: This certification demonstrates an individual’s ability to work within a joint forces environment, where members from multiple branches of the military come together for a common mission.

5. Combat Arms Skills Badge: Awarded by the U.S Army, this badge recognizes proficiency in combat skills such as shooting, physical fitness, and first aid.

6. Expert Infantryman Badge / Expert Field Medical Badge: These are similar badges awarded by the U.S Army Infantry and Medical Corps respectively, recognizing superior proficiency in those respective fields.

7. Ranger / SEAL / Special Forces Tab: These tabs signify completion of rigorous courses and trainings that qualify individuals for elite units within their branch of service.

8. Combat Action Badge (CAB) / Combat Action Ribbon (CAR): These ribbons or badges are awarded to individuals who have actively engaged with enemy forces during combat operations.

9. Silver Star / Navy Cross / Air Force Cross: These prestigious awards recognize extreme valor in combat situations where service members have demonstrated extraordinary bravery and selflessness under fire.

Overall, earning these certifications signals not only technical proficiency but also a commitment to one’s unit, branch, and country.

14. How often are skills tested and re-evaluated for already-certified personnel in order to maintain their qualifications in battle situations?

It varies based on the specific branch of the military and the type of skill being tested, but generally skills are re-evaluated and recertified on a regular basis. This can range from annual evaluations to more frequent evaluations for critical skills or in high-stress situations. Additionally, there may be ongoing training and drills to maintain proficiency and readiness in battle situations.

15 . What sort of role do personal recommendations or references play when applying for a position requiring combat certification?

Personal recommendations or references can play a significant role when applying for a position requiring combat certification. These recommendations can provide insight into the applicant’s character, work ethic, and previous experience in combat situations. They can also speak to their ability to work well under pressure and effectively respond to difficult situations.

Having strong personal references or recommendations can also demonstrate that the applicant has a good reputation within their field and is trusted by those who have worked closely with them. This can help to build trust with potential employers and show that the applicant is reliable and capable of performing at a high level.

In some cases, personal recommendations or references may carry more weight than professional qualifications or certifications. This is especially true in fields that highly value trust, teamwork, and camaraderie, such as military or law enforcement roles.

However, it’s important to note that while personal recommendations or references can enhance an application, they should not be relied upon solely. Employers will still place importance on an applicant’s skills and qualifications related to combat certification when making hiring decisions.

16 . Are there opportunities for advancement within a specific branch based on level of combat certification achieved?

Yes, there are opportunities for advancement within a specific branch of the military based on level of combat certification achieved. For example, in the Army, soldiers who have completed advanced levels of combat training may be eligible for promotion to higher ranks and leadership positions within their unit. Additionally, completion of certain combat certifications may make a service member more competitive for specialized roles and assignments within their branch, such as becoming a member of a special operations unit or serving as a firearms instructor.

17 . How does being deployed and actually seeing active duty compare to training and preparation while working towards becoming certified?

Being deployed and seeing active duty is a completely different experience than training and preparation for certification. While both require hard work, dedication, and discipline, being deployed puts you in real-life scenarios that cannot be completely replicated in training.

When working towards becoming certified, you are focused on learning the necessary skills and knowledge to pass tests and meet requirements. Depending on your field of certification, this may involve classroom instruction, hands-on training, or a combination of both. While these experiences can provide valuable knowledge and prepare you for the job, they cannot fully capture the intensity and stress of being in an actual deployment scenario.

Deployments involve much more than just performing job duties. You are responsible for your own safety as well as the safety of those around you. This requires constant vigilance and quick thinking in unpredictable situations. In addition, there is often a great deal at stake during deployments – whether it is protecting national interests or providing aid to those in need. The pressure of these high stakes can also affect how one performs their duties.

Furthermore, deployments often involve living in austere environments with limited resources and personal comforts. This adds an extra layer of challenge to daily tasks and routines that may have seemed simple during training. In addition to fulfilling job duties, service members also have to manage personal responsibilities such as hygiene, meal preparation, staying fit, and maintaining equipment.

Another aspect that sets deployment apart from training is the potential danger involved. During deployments, service members may face real threats such as enemy fire or improvised explosive devices (IEDs). This heightened risk requires a higher level of alertness and readiness at all times.

Overall, while training prepares service members with essential skills for their job roles, it cannot fully replicate the intensity and challenges that come with a deployment experience. Being deployed allows service members to put their training into practice while also facing new challenges unique to their specific mission. It is a transformative experience that ultimately strengthens one’s skills, resilience, and ability to adapt in a high-pressure environment.

18 . Can individuals with pre-existing medical conditions still qualify for and hold positions that require combat readiness?

Yes, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions may still qualify for and hold positions that require combat readiness, as long as they are able to meet the physical and mental requirements for those positions. Accommodations or waivers may be granted in some cases for certain medical conditions that do not significantly impact an individual’s ability to perform their duties. However, each case would need to be evaluated on a individual basis by a medical professional to determine an individual’s suitability for a particular position.

19 . How long does one typically serve after attaining their initial certifications before moving on from active service?

This can vary greatly depending on the individual. Some people may serve for only a few years before moving on to a different career or transitioning to reserve or retired status. Others may make a lifelong career out of military service and serve for 20 or more years. Ultimately, it depends on the specific goals and circumstances of the person serving.

20 . In what ways have advancements in technology impacted the way combat skills are taught and evaluated in training?

1. Realistic simulations: The use of virtual and augmented reality technology has allowed for more realistic combat scenarios to be created in training. This allows soldiers to practice their skills in a safe environment, without putting themselves or others at risk.

2. Remote learning: With advancements in communication technology, combat skills can now be taught remotely. This allows for trainers to reach a larger audience and provide instruction to soldiers located in different locations.

3. Data analysis: Technology has made it possible to collect and analyze data on soldiers’ performance during training. This allows trainers to identify areas where a soldier may need improvement and tailor their training accordingly.

4. Weapon systems: Advancements in weapon technology have changed the way combat skills are taught. Soldiers must now be trained on how to operate and maintain advanced weaponry, such as drones and unmanned ground vehicles.

5. Real-time feedback: With the use of sensors and tracking devices, trainers can provide real-time feedback to soldiers during training exercises. This immediate feedback allows for quicker skill improvements.

6. Non-lethal options: The development of non-lethal weapons and tactics has changed the way combat skills are taught in training. Soldiers are now trained on how to de-escalate situations using less-than-lethal force, reducing casualties and collateral damage.

7. Collaboration tools: Technology has made it easier for soldiers from different units or branches to collaborate during training exercises. This allows for more diverse perspectives and improved learning outcomes.

8. Individualized training: With advances in technology, combat training can now be tailored to an individual soldier’s needs, abilities, and learning style. This personalized approach can lead to more effective skill development.

9 . Objective evaluation: Technology can provide more objective measures for evaluating a soldier’s performance during combat training. This reduces bias and subjective opinions from trainers, leading to fairer evaluations.

10 . Instant access to information: Smart devices allow soldiers instant access to important information regarding tactics, strategies, and equipment during combat training. This enables them to make quicker decisions and adapt to changing situations on the battlefield.


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